Smith, a graduate of GMU, where I am a student, has a piece today in the AEI’s American lauded by Bryan Caplan among others. Here is my response:
I enjoyed your piece about Civil Disobedience and Jose Vargas.
One element I wonder why you left out:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously quoted Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It seems nearly impossible for those stuck in an unjust situation to be able to get out on their own. Further, reform which approaches Pareto optimality is very difficult when transitional gains traps are involved. The incumbent beneficiaries need to be compensated for reforms that would make them worse off. These three principles together point to the need for people of good will who enjoy a privileged status to engage in civil disobedience at least along side, and preferably in place of, those in jeopardy.
What is necessary is for people to voluntarily declare: “I will provide refuge to illegal immigrants until the law is changed.” But we must also be willing to post bonds on behalf of immigrants sufficient to insure the incumbent beneficiaries of at least their status quo.
What I am suggesting is an attitude of sacrificial altruism, in the absence of which any reform is the choosing of a lesser injustice over a greater injustice. But such measures of injustice are subjective, and thus socially unmeasurable.